E-Chowan board settles suit with ex-employee

By Reggie Ponder

The Daily Advance

2 Comments | Leave a Comment

EDENTON — The Edenton-Chowan Board of Education has reached a settlement with a former school administrator in her federal civil rights lawsuit against the school district.

Neither school officials nor Mary E. Felton, the plaintiff in the lawsuit, would discuss the terms of the settlement last week.

However, a copy of the settlement indicates Felton’s lawsuit was “dismissed with prejudice,” meaning she cannot file another lawsuit on the same grounds, and both she and the school district will have to pay their own legal fees in the matter.

Felton had alleged she was the victim of racial discrimination, claiming the Edenton-Chowan Schools failed to promote her because she is black.

Felton was working as an assistant principal at John A. Holmes High School when she applied for the principal’s job. Felton wasn’t selected for the principal’s job and later, she was assigned to work as a guidance counselor at Chowan Middle School.

Felton has claimed that she opposed the assignment to Chowan Middle School, and after she refused to obtain the necessary credentials for the job, the school district first suspended her and then fired her.

Felton would go on to file six civil lawsuits, each alleging her failure to win promotion to principal and her later demotion to guidance counselor were based on her race. After all six lawsuits were dismissed, Felton filed a federal civil rights complaint in July 2012, again alleging she had been the victim of racial discrimination.

Prior to filing her civil rights complaint, the federal Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ruled in December 2011 that the Edenton-Chowan Schools discriminated against Felton when it demoted her.

School officials have argued that the EEOC finding was inaccurate.

In her federal lawsuit, Felton alleged the Edenton-Chowan school district demoted her after she filed a complaint with the EEOC.

During a meeting of the Edenton-Chowan Board of Education last week, board member Gil Burroughs asked whether the Felton lawsuit had been settled.

After being told by Superintendent Allan Smith that the matter had been resolved, Burroughs said the board needed to set aside some time, possibly at its next quarterly meeting, to discuss what had happened in Felton’s case. He said the board needed to take steps to ensure that nothing like it ever happens again.

“We need to set time aside,” Burroughs said. “It just seems a reasonable thing to do that. We spent a lot of time and money on this.”

Board Chairman John Guard suggested waiting until incoming Superintendent Rob Jackson has had time to settle into his new job before the board holds the discussion.

Meanwhile, school officials have been mum on the settlement of Felton’s lawsuit.

In an email Tuesday Smith declined to discuss terms of the settlement.

“The executed settlement agreement speaks for itself and is a public record,” Smith wrote.

Contacted at home on Tuesday morning, Burroughs also declined to discuss the lawsuit’s settlement.

Felton told the Chowan Herald last week she wished to speak with her attorney before commenting on the settlement.

Comments

Come on TDA!

Where's any leadership here? Readers are paying for service that they're not getting. I'm getting REAL close to dropping this sack of s*** subscription. The Virginian Pilot is looking better and better every day.

Seriously?

Another wrong story under the wrong headline? Who the heck is in charge of this crap? Someone needs to review how to do this job.

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